Views sought on bill to protect private tenants and limit rent increases

Holyrood’s Local Government and Communities Committee is seeking views on a new Bill which aims to increase private tenants’ protection by limiting rent increases and allowing them to seek a “fair” rent.

Views sought on bill to protect private tenants and limit rent increases

The Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill, a Member’s Bill from Pauline McNeill MSP, would prevent a landlord of a private residential tenancy from increasing rent in any year by more than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 1%.

The Bill seeks to provide greater protections for private tenants by allowing them to apply at any time to a rent officer for a “fair open market rent” to be set for a property. In deciding the application, the officer would take into account matters like whether the property has poor energy efficiency or is in a bad condition. The Bill would also make private landlords enter more detailed information about their property in the Scottish Landlord Register, including the monthly rent charged.

Committee convener James Dornan MSP said: “The proportion of households in private rented housing now stands at just under 15%.

“As the private rented sector in Scotland has grown over the last couple of decades there have been various reforms to tighten the regulation of landlords and give tenants more rights. But the stated ambition behind this Bill is to change the balance of power further. It would cap rent increases to 1% plus CPI and to allow tenants more scope to challenge rents.

“We are keen to hear views about whether this further change is necessary and whether the provisions in the Bill are workable and will have the intended impact.

“We also want to find out what the financial impact of this bill would be upon private tenants, landlords, the wider rented sector and others, and we welcome the opportunity to hear views on this proposed legislation.”

The cap on rent rises imposed by the Bill and the right to seek a “fair open market rent” apply to holders of ‘Private Residential Tenancies’ which have been the standard type of tenancy since 2017. The Bill will not impact rent-a-room agreements where the lodger rents in the owner’s home.

The committee’s call for view closes on December 7 and you can give your views here.

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